The Pathfinder club is the glue that binds all the ministries of the youth department. The Pathfinder club was not founded by any single person but it was a collective effort of those pioneers who loved the Lord and desired to instill spiritual values in the youth. “The first Pathfinder Club of record was in Anaheim, California directed by John McKim and Willa Steen. This club began in the late 1920’s and ran through the 1930’s. In 1944 McKim died and the Steens had moved. In 1930 Lester and Ione Martin with co-directors Theron & Ethel Johnston began a club in Santa Ana, California.” Read more here
The main purpose of the Pathfinder club, is to lead young people into a redemptive relationship with Jesus, to build them into responsible and mature individuals, and to involve them in active and selfless service. The club encourages the youth to participate in all aspects of church life. The 18th of September, 2021 was the Global World Pathfinder day for the Seventh-Day Adventist church. This was not an ordinary annual commemoration day, but a special one as it was the 71st Anniversary for our Pathfinders across the globe.
Pathfinders celebrated this global special day in style. Celebrations across the globe were witnessed by our young people, but what made it more special for Pioneer SDA church in the Southern Africa-Indian Division in Pretoria, South Africa, was the launch of their first ever Pathfinder club in 20 years.
The General Conference Youth Director, responsible for Pathfinders, Pastor Gary Blanchard, was among the invited guests virtually. He challenged all our young people to be part of the Pathfinder club as it brings them closer to Jesus.
The Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division Youth Director, pastor Busi Khumalo attended the launch and was accompanied by his Conference colleagues from the Southern Africa Union Conference (SAU) and Pioneer church members and he gave a charge to the new pathfinder club members. “A church without young people is a dead church, as we believe that you the young people are the future of the church. I am excited to be part of this launch. This is a good sign that Pioneer SDA church is in good hands”
Pastor Deon Heger the district pastor for Pioneer SDA church, encouraged the young people to soldier on with the mission of the church, as they launched their church’s ever Pathfinder Club in 20 years. “Young people as we champion our strategic plan , I want to encourage you to answer to the call of… I Will Go!”
The young pathfinders were excited to know that the day they have all been waiting for, has finally arrived. Peace Kampira one of the young Pathfinder club for Pioneer church said, “Today is a big day for me, because my church has a Pathfinder club and I love and enjoy the club as it teaches us discipline and skills”
For some parents, the pathfinder club was not just a club to bring young people together, but to instill discipline, skills and finding life partners as testified by Mrs. Valencia Schippers “My life partner who is my husband today, found me because of the Pathfinder club. I told him if you want me, you better join me in the pathfinder club and he went through all the stages to master guide level and today we have been married for more than 20 years and still together and supporting our pathfinders.”
Tsiri and his wife Oliva Rakotonirina, the brains behind the launch of this first ever Pathfinder club for the Pioneer SDA church, said it was a dream come true to have the Pathfinder established. “When we started this pathfinder club, it was in fact the late Elder Jannie Baker who said this beautiful church is 20 years old and has never had a pathfinder club. This really challenged us and today we are witnessing that dream in our church”
The Senior Pathfinders and Master Guide leaders from the Northern Conference were all there to support the birth of this new born baby. Pastor Ndaba Mvelasi said, “We are so excited to be part and parcel of this history making. Today we are donating small bibles for our new pathfinders and Adventurer club at Pioneer, as a sign of encouraging and supporting them.”
To put a cherry on top of the cake, special cakes representing the three Pathfinder classes were prepared especially for this day. Catch them young is a noble method that the church leaders are employing, in order to grow the church, as the young people are the future of the church. The launch of this new Pathfinder club at Pioneer is sign that the church is indeed in the good hands.
Article by: Noel Sibanda & Pastor Busi Khumalo
Photography: Noel Sibanda